Satan’s Holiday

Satan’s Holiday
Vol: 145 Issue: 31 Thursday, October 31, 2013

Today is Hallowe’en, or the Feast of Samhain, el Dia de lost Muertos, one of the world’s oldest holidays, still celebrated from Europe to the Americas (and my daughter, Kari’s birthday. Happy birthday, Kari!)

One year for Christmas, one of my sons gave me a 700 page book entitled, “The Story of the Irish Race” written by Irish historian Seumas Macmanus near the close of the 19th century.

Throughout his book, Professor Macmanus demonstrates a record of Irish history, maintained through its songs, legends and traditions, almost as rich and detailed as that of the Hebrews themselves. Indeed, Roman historians of antiquity considered Ireland to be an ancient kingdom when Rome was still young.

Part of Irish folklore history holds that the ancient Ard-Righs (High Kings) of Ireland were trading partners and allies of King Solomon of Israel. It seems that the ancient pagan Irish Druidic class was modeled after the Israelite system of priests and judges.

The Druids maintained the history of the Irish race, mimicking the practice of the Israelites of committing the past to both oral and written records. The Druids were like the ancient Israelite priests, only without the God of Israel.

The ancient Romans referred to the Druids as ‘barbarian philosophers’ but in his book, the Gallic Wars, Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar noted that it could take up to twenty years to complete the Druid course of study.

“The principal point of their doctrine”, says Caesar, “is that the soul does not die and that after death it passes from one body into another. . .

With regard to their actual course of studies, the main object of all education is, in their opinion, to imbue their scholars with a firm belief in the indestructability of the human soul, which, according to their belief, merely passes at death from one tenement to another; for by such doctrine alone, they say, which robs death of all its terrors, can the highest form of human courage be developed.

Subsidiary to the teachings of this main principle, they hold various lectures and discussions on astronomy, on the extent and geographical distribution of the globe, on the different branches of natural philosophy, and on many problems connected with religion”.

Caesar also noted the Druidic deity was the equivalent to the Roman god of the underworld, Hades. The ancient Israelites would have recognized him from their literature as Satan.

The whole ghosts and goblins and witches thing comes from the Druidic traditions of the ancient Celts. November 1st was the beginning of the Celtic new year, marking the end of the harvest and the beginning of the dark cold winter.

The winter season in Celtic tradition was closely associated with human death. The winter’s cold would hasten death, and so November 1st was the day when the Celts believed the boundaries between the living and the dead were the weakest.

On October 31st, following the ancient custom of burnt offerings unique to the Celts (and ancient Israelites) the Druids would order huge sacred bonfires (bone-fires) where people would gather to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, to frighten away the spirits of the dead.

Under the Romans, the Druidic custom merged with the Roman customs of Feralia, the Roman day of the dead and that of Pomona the goddess of fruit and trees. By the 4th century, it became the feast of Samhain.

In the 7th century, the Roman Pope Boniface IV declared November 1 All Saints Day, the day to honor saints and martyrs. In this way, the Vatican hoped to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a church-sanctioned festival of the dead instead.

From the History Channel’s website:

“The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils.

Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas.”

Assessment:

Hallowe’en is a conundrum for Christians. There are two ways that we, as Christian parents, generally approach it. Here’s the first thing I did as a new Christian just learning what Hallowe’en is all about.

On October 31st, we’d turn off all the lights and pretend we weren’t home.

Later, we learned from an elder about greeting the little trick or treaters and giving them tracts instead of candy.

My kids didn’t get to trick or treat for Hallowe’en when they were little. Instead, I used them like little banners to demonstrate my faith. (It wasn’t easy being one of my kids. Take their word for it.)

When all the other kids were dressing up like fairies and demons (and princesses and comic-book characters and hobos) I insisted that my kids be given something else to do besides celebrate in Satan’s holiday.

After a decade or so of alienating my kids, it occurred to me that other kids weren’t really celebrating Satan’s holiday.

My kids knew about the history of Hallowe’en. I made sure of that. They knew it was Satan’s holiday. But they didn’t want to worship Satan.

They wanted to dress up in costumes and play instead of do schoolwork and canvass the neighborhood for free candy and eat it until they got sick.

They also knew that they could do all that without worshipping Satan even once the whole night. They figured that out years before I did.

The second way to deal with being a Christian at Hallowe’en is to go to the Bible for the answers. (I didn’t get around to that until about the time my last kid was too old to go trick or treating anymore. Being one of my kids really wasn’t easy.)

Paul writes in Romans 14:1;

“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.”

Hmmm. Doubtful disputations? Like what?

“For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.”

What about days like Hallowe’en?

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

Paul says that a day is a day is a day:

“He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.”

As to how Christians should regard it,

”let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

Why? Because Paul says a day, in and of itself is just not that important.

“For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living.”

What Paul says regarding things like Hallowe’en is;

“So then, every one of us shall give account of himself unto God”

— and if you are ok with it, then its between you and Him.

Why? Because to a Christian, it is just not that important.

“I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.”

So if you, my brothers and sisters, think that turning off the lights and pretending you aren’t home tonight is an appropriate response, then it is an appropriate response and I praise the Lord for you.

On the other hand, if you think the appropriate response is to greet the little trick or treaters with a Bible tract, you are equally correct and I praise the Lord for you.

And if you think that on Hallowe’en trick or treaters are just kids having innocent fun and you also want to load them up with junk food commensurate with how cute they are, then, by the authority of the Word of God, you are ALSO correct and I praise the Lord for you.

“Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” (Romans 14:22)

It is possible to be a Christian in this world and still live a little.

Note: This Letter is a review of yesterday’s OL but with a particulary personal message. So with your indulgence, another message about Hallowe’en from Jack.  J.L. Robb has also given us a review in “Halloween History“.  This may be the last time we discuss this pagan day (so we’ll do it with gusto) because Jesus could take us out of here at any moment. Maranatha!

Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch
Vol: 145 Issue: 30 Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Religious holidays are all but illegal in 21st century America. Those few that survive have been watered-down beyond recognition. Thanksgiving, a day once solemnly set aside to thank God for our blessings as a nation, has morphed into Turkey Day, a day set aside to worship the guest of honor at dinner.

“Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:25)

Most Americans don’t gather to give thanks to God, they gather to eat and watch football. For millions, it is the one day a year they say grace before meals, and that is about as religious a holiday as it is gonna get.

But there is still one religious holiday that is untouchable by either the Political Correctness Police or a vote-hungry Congress. Hallowe’en.

Your kids will be encouraged to dress up as witches and hobgoblins, to exchange Hallowe’en cards or small gifts, to wish each other a ‘Happy Hallowe’en’ and to engage in
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day-long celebration that doesn’t end until well after dark.

Make no mistake about it, Hallowe’en is a religious holiday.  It just isn’t a  Christian holiday.  It derives its name from ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ — the day before the Catholic holiday of “All Saint’s Day” on November 1st.  According to the AmericanCatholic.org, Halloween was adopted by the Catholic Church as a day of “communion with the saints” who are still paying for their sins in purgatory and those who’ve either paid their sin debt themselves or were “prayed out” by someone still alive.

A person could obtain a plenary indulgence by saying a particular formula of prayer performed on November 1st.   

“In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for all the martyrs (later all saints) from May 13 to November 1. The night before became known as All Hallow’s Even or “holy evening.” Eventually the name was shortened to the current Halloween. On November 2, the Church celebrates All Souls Day.

The purpose of these feasts is to remember those who have died, whether they are officially recognized by the Church as saints or not. It is a celebration of the “communion of saints,” which reminds us that the Church is not bound by space or time.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that through the communion of saints “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good thing.”

“Purgatory” is a doctrine unknown to the Bible. It is based largely on one of the books of the apocrypha and Catholic tradition that was formulated into a cohesive doctrine of the church at the Councils of Florence and Trent.

But Hallowe’en was originally a Celtic religious holiday. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living. The dead would roam the earth seeking living bodies to possess. 

Naturally, the still-living did not want to be possessed. So on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. They would dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily parade around the neighborhood in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess.

The holiday was known as the Feast of Samhain, and was the High Holy Day of the Druidic pagan religion. 

The Romans later adopted the Celtic practices as their own. In the first century AD, Samhain was assimilated into celebrations of some of the other Roman traditions that took place in October, such as their day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees.

The thrust of the practices also changed over time to become more ritualized. As pagan belief in spirit possession waned, the practice of dressing up like hobgoblins, ghosts, and witches took on a more ceremonial role.

The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840’s by Irish immigrants fleeing their country’s potato famine.

The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Catholics would walk from village to village begging for “soul cakes,” made out of square pieces of bread with currants. 

The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul’s passage to purgatory and on to heaven.

Assessment:

The Druids were the priestly caste of the ancient Celts. The Druids were polytheistic pagans who also deified elements of nature. The Druids were reputed to have possessed ‘the ancient knowledge’ — or witchcraft. 

There is little doubt in my mind that the Celtic Druids worshipped Satan,  (the angel of light) and there is plenty of documentation of the ‘ancient knowledge’. (Modern archeologists are still scratching their heads over Stonehenge).

Other ancient pagan religions also claimed divinely-obtained knowledge, and left behind similarly perplexing ruins, like the Mayan temple, the pyramids of Egypt or the statues of Easter Island.

Genesis Chapter Six makes reference to the offspring of an unholy mating between angels and the daughters of men in the period before the Flood.

“… the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” (Genesis 6:3)

Of the offspring of these unholy unions, Genesis tells us,

“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” (Genesis 6:4)

The ancient Greeks and Romans worshipped a pantheon of gods and goddesses, together with strange mythical creatures like minotaurs, centaurs, and so on.

Joshua spoke of the ‘gods’ from before the Flood that were still being worshipped by the ancient Israelites:

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether THE GODS WHICH YOUR FATHERS SERVED THAT WERE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FLOOD, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)

When I was a young Christian, I used to rail against the celebration of Hallowe’en because it was Satan’s high religious holiday. But as I’ve matured in the Lord, I’ve come to see it a bit differently. And maybe because of contemporary history.

As Christian religious celebrations are being secularized, Hallowe’en just keeps growing in popularity. And as it grows in popularity, Hallowe’en’s Satanic background becomes more a part of its celebration.

It is an object lesson to Christians of the reality and existence of Satan and a testimony to his status as the prince and power of the air and the ‘god of this world’. (2nd Corinthians 4:4)

C. S. Lewis wrote that the “greatest trick the devil ever pulled was in convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” But for Christians, is the one day of the year when Satan is unmasked and exposed as a real entity.

I don’t know if I ever made a convert by railing against little kids having fun dressed up in Hallowe’en costumes. I rather doubt it.  Hallowe’en’s roots are no more pagan than those of Saturnalia, also adopted by the Catholic Church, but renamed ‘Christmas’.

So I don’t rail against it anymore. It is too good a witnessing opportunity to waste by sounding like a wild-eyed fanatic railing against little kids in cute costumes having fun playing dress-up and gorging on tiny Hershey bars.

“And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

In the end, they aren’t worshipping Satan.  They’re making fun of him.  And they are learning about him in the context of heaven and hell.  That tends to spark questions in young minds.

For many, the controversy about Hallowe’en festivities will eventually spark the same question — and the same choice — Joshua laid out before his men.

If Satan is real, then God is real.  And if God is real, then you have a choice before you. It was that logic that first caused me to choose Christ.

And it also demonstrates the truth of Paul’s comforting assurance that all things do work together for good to them who are the called according to His purpose.

Even Hallowe’en.

Note: Jack wrote this Letter October 31, 2009.  Pete Garcia’s column, “Prophecy in Review” points us to the day when we will see the Lord face to face. 

Friends of God

Friends of God
Vol: 145 Issue: 29 Tuesday, October 29, 2013

All human beings, according to Scripture, are born with an eternal destiny. In the grand scheme of things, the main purpose of our earthly lives is to choose what that eternal destiny will be.

The Apostle James asks and answers the question;

“For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14)

We can get some sense of perspective from our own human experience. We are created by God at conception, but spend nine months being prepared for life outside the womb.

We leave the comfort of the womb in terror; our first experience involves being grabbed by the head with a pair of salad spoons and yanked from our 98.6 degree environment into a sterile 68 degree delivery room, where we are promptly assaulted.

Shortly thereafter, silver nitrate is dropped into our eyes, we get poked, prodded, stuck with needles and get dropped into a basket where we find ourselves alone for the very first time in our brief existence.

(And you don’t even want to think about what is coming in a few days if you are a boy.)

But, given all of that, who would want to trade this life for a life spent floating in darkness inside the womb?

The baby on the way out doesn’t know what wonders await him on the other side, (but the doctor wielding the salad spoons does.) Still, the doctor only introduces the potential — what the baby does with that potential occupies his next seventy or eighty years.

Then the process starts all over again. Out come the Divine Salad Spoons, and we are dragged, kicking and screaming into the third and final phase of our existence — eternity.

Assessment:

The Bible is the God’s Owner’s Manual for human beings. It contains all the information necessary regarding humanity’s origins, care and feeding, rules for safe operation and guidelines for proper maintenance. It also explains our ultimate purpose — to be friends of God.

“Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:14-15)

Note that being a friend of God is conditional; whereas salvation is unconditional. Of friendship, Jesus said, “Ye are My friends, IF ye do whatsoever I command you.”

Regarding salvation, Jesus said,

“I am the door: by Me if ANY man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

But of His friends, Jesus said,

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you.” (John 15:16)

Jesus is not extending His Hand of friendship to farmers. The command to ‘bear fruit’ that ‘should remain’ is a reminder that this life is, as James said, ‘even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, then vanisheth away.’

Each of us has an eternal destiny and each of us has the opportunity to choose where and how we will spend it.

We will either spend it in joy unspeakable in the Presence of God, or we will spend it in darkness, alone, separated from God for eternity, with only our memories, in the place Jesus described three times as being;

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:44,46,48)

My eternal destiny was sealed when I accepted the gift of Pardon Jesus offers and trusted Him for my salvation.

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

But what of my ‘fruit’ that is to ‘remain’, should I hope to be God’s ‘friend’ instead of just another servant. Note also that ‘grace’ is the extension of an unmerited gift, mercy and salvation are the gifts being extended.

But ‘friendship’ is something different. It is often observed that “we are stuck with family, but we choose our friends.”

Each of us, to be saved, chooses Christ. We become part of God’s ‘forever family’ as Hal likes to put it.

But Jesus says of His friends, ‘I have chosen you’. Not only that, but ORDAINED them to ‘bear fruit’ that ‘should remain’ after their own ‘vapour’ has dissipated from this earth.

Among His servants, Jesus has chosen and ordained certain of them to bear fruit, saying that those who accept His calling will be numbered among His friends.

There can be no question but that we are in the final countdown to the end of this present Age. The final war between the Lamb and the Dragon is poised to spill out into this reality during the Tribulation.

There is little time remaining for those of us who have accepted the call to take up our positions on the line. Not everybody is called to take positions in the front ranks, however.

Any army has many layers; warriors, support troops, cooks, supply clerks, ‘office pinkies’ etc.

In the Marines, I was a supply clerk, then later changed Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) to become an ‘office pinkie’ working in a data processing unit. But, like all Marines, I was, first and foremost, a combat rifleman.

Each of us may find ourselves in combat from time to time, if we are faithful, but that doesn’t make all of us frontline warriors. Some of us are more valuable in a supporting role.

An army’s effectiveness depends as much on its lines of supply as it does the fierceness of its warriors. (A Marine with an empty rifle would be a fierce warrior armed with an expensive, poorly designed club)

There are many ways the friends of God can lend support to those on the front lines of battle. Pray for us at the Omega Letter.

Seek the leading of the Holy Spirit. The time has come for those who would be friends of God to stand.

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:20)

Note: Jack, (who we believe is a friend of God) wrote this inspirational Letter to us back in 2005.  Wendy Wippel is spending the week with her daughter who is home from school and requested we re-run, ”Sinai, South of the Border” from 2010. We pray it blesses your heart today.

First, Nothing Became Everything . . .

First, Nothing Became Everything . . .
Vol: 145 Issue: 28 Monday, October 28, 2013

The other day I was chatting with the grown son of an acquaintance when the topic of faith came up. ”What?” he says. ”You believe in God?  You think you have some cosmic Invisible Friend?  Are you kidding me?  I thought you were smarter than that!”

I asked him how he thought the universe came to be.  He shot me a pitying look and said, “Why the Big Bang, of course!”

The Big Bang Theory posits that in the beginning, there was nothing.  No universe, no matter, no air . . . just nothingness.  This is his starting position – before the Big Bang, there was nothing.

Join me in a little experiment.  Try to imagine nothing.  You can’t.  Our minds cannot grasp the concept of nothing.  You can’t imagine nothing because any observation you might make is, by definition, something

The one thing that does not exist anywhere in the known universe is . . . nothing.

The Big Bang Theory is the only workable secular scientific explanation for the existence of everything.  The theory of a static, eternal and unchanging universe was scrapped in favor of the expanding universe theory developed by Edwin Hubble.

“Hubble was able to show a linear relationship between the velocity of the galaxies and their distance — the farther the galaxy, the faster it was receding.  Hubble’s Law is a linear relationship, so every observer at every point in every galaxy of the Universe sees him or herself to be at the center of expansion, when there really is no center.”

For the universe to be expanding, it must have had a starting point.  My friend’s position is that the starting point of the universe is the Big Bang. 

The Big Bang model was first conceived by George Lemaitre, and was introduced as a working scientific model in 1948, (adding yet another to the list of end-times themes that came into being the same year as Israel’s restoration.)

According to the Big Bang theory, all matter and all space was originally part of an infinitesimally small point called the Singularity.  The theory says nothing about where that singularity came from.

The Big Bang Theory holds that, at the point of Singularity, the entire universe was just a pinpoint, although it contained all the matter that now exists.  Space itself stretched to its present size.  That’s not too far from the truth.

The only difference between the secular version and the Bible’s is that Isaiah credits God:

“Thus saith God the LORD, He that created the heavens, and stretched them out; He that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; He that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein . . “ (Isaiah 42.5)

Secular science requires a Singularity, of which secular science claims to know everything and nothing but is certain of only one thing: the Singularity cannot be the God of the Bible.

Nothing is nothing and everything is something. Isn’t it?  My friend believes that nothing created everything for no reason.

I thought he was smarter than that!

Assessment:

“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalms 14:1)

The problems with the Big Bang Theory are legion; the point of Singularity — that cannot be God — is a based on a theoretic experiment that could not be conducted for which the conclusions had already been reached. 

But having already abandoned the first rule of science (verifiability) in order to come up with their Singularity, it gets easier to deal with the other problems. 

For example, antimatter is the equivalent in all respects to matter excepting an opposite electro-magnetic charge.  There is anti-matter in the universe, but only in small amounts.  The Big Bang’s basic theory would demand equal parts matter and anti-matter. 

The Big Bang offers an explanation for the incredible vastness of the universe, with stars that are millions of light-years apart.  It says the universe is billions of years apart and still expanding.  But observations about the expanding universe do not point to where the universe is expanding from.

Cosmologists like Stephen Hawking make use of the Copernican Principle, which says the universe has no center and no outer edges.  But that is a scientific assumption, not a scientific conclusion.

The Bible teaches that the universe was spoken into existence by God.  It also says that the entire creation process took just six days.  It teaches that the universe is of finite size and has a boundary.

The Bible says the Earth is near the center.  It says the cosmos has been expanded by God in the past and it says that the cosmos is young.

One Creation model developed by Russell Humphreys says time was dilated at the center as the rest of the universe expanded.  The time dilation effect would permit billions of years’ worth of physical processes to take place over the course of a matter of days as observed from the center.

The arguments go back and forth endlessly, but in the final analysis, neither side can prove their case to the satisfaction of the other. 

My friend’s son set out to prove his position on the Big Bang and evolution – he’s a bright kid! – but trying to prove the unprovable proved to be his undoing.

I could have made an effort to prove God exists, but I would be doing exactly the same thing and could reasonably expect exactly the same result.  

Instead, I let him continue — until he got around to hearing himself argue that nothing created everything out of nothing when nobody was looking and for no apparent reason. 

Proverbs 26:4 warns against answering a fool according to his folly, “lest ye be like him.”  Scripture identifies “the fool” as one who says, “there is no God.” 

So does logic, which says that you can’t prove a negative.  He can’t prove there is no God – but you can’t prove that there is, apart from using the Bible, which he assumes is not reliable. 

Trying to prove God apart from the Bible puts you in the position of putting God on trial.  On trial is the question of whether God exists and if so, does He tell the truth?

You are the prosecutor, the skeptic is the jury and God is the defendant.  You are already undone. 

The next verse tells us TO answer a fool according to his folly “lest he be wise in his own conceit.”

So which is it? 

It is a fool’s errand for a believer to attempt to prove creation to an unbeliever because accepting creation requires accepting a Creator first.  You can’t get there from the opposite direction. 

But what you can do is demonstrate the absurdity of the Big Bang’s position: a Singularity — that cannot be God! — caused space to expand from a pinpoint into the vastness of the universe, for no particular reason.

And during the course of this random expansion, a biological computer operating system — one infinitely more sophisticated than the most sophisticated computer systems ever devised by man — programmed itself with all the information necessary from birth to death and then somehow installed itself in every living thing.

The fool — that says in his heart, “there is no God” — is only capable of saying that because first, the “Singularity” programmed him with the capability for higher thought. 

My dog’s pretty smart, but she doesn’t have the programming necessary for existential thought.  But she has DNA. (So does an amoeba.) 

Apart from the Bible, the existence of God cannot be ‘proved’ and trying to prove what is impossible to prove makes you as big a fool as he is.

Consider, for a moment, the task you are undertaking when you try.  You are attempting to debate with somebody that believes that, in the beginning, nobody created nothing, which then became everything — and for no apparent reason.

And he thinks that you’re the one that’s nuts.

Note: Last week scientists discovered ”the most distant galaxy yet”, which brought us to this brief Jack wrote back in 2011.

The Second Coming — In Two Part Harmony

The Second Coming — In Two Part Harmony
Vol: 145 Issue: 26 Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Bible often appears to address the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as if it were one event, but upon closer examination, it is obvious that it takes place in two separate parts with an interval of time between them.

The Lord returns once for His Church as its Redeemer and then again at the end of the Tribulation Period as its Avenger.  The first coming is in secret.  It is signless – that is to say – there is nothing that must occur first.  

That first, secret coming for His Church could have taken place at any time in history from the 1st century until now, something known to theology as the “doctrine of immanency.” 

This secret coming is called the Rapture of the Church. 

There will be some who will argue that the Rapture is a made up doctrine and point to the fact the word rapture does not appear in the Bible as ‘evidence’.  (It is worth noting at this point that the word ‘Bible’ isn’t in the Bible either.)

The word ‘Rapture’ comes from the Latin word rapios which is itself a translation of the Greek word ‘harpazo’ which means, “to snatch away, grab, or carry off.” 

So it’s not a very compelling argument, and its rebuttal is devastating:

The word ‘Rapture’ doesn’t appear in the English Bible for the same reason that there IS an English Bible. Because the Greeks and Romans used different words for everything than we do. 

Duh.

Assessment:

Whether the word Rapture is in the Bible or not, the picture of the Second Coming taking place in two-part harmony is unmistakable.

The Rapture of the Church is clearly not a new doctrine invented by a Scottish schoolgirl, or by C.I. Scofield or by J.N. Darby.  For fourteen hundred years, it was a lost doctrine, along with the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith.

Martin Luther didn’t discover a new doctrine when he read Ephesians 2:8-9, he rediscovered what the Vatican had buried during the Dark Ages.   (That’s why they were called “the Dark Ages” in the first place).

Luther rediscovered the truth that salvation comes through grace and by faith, not by paying money to a priest for absolution from purgatory.

To the degree one can credit Schofield or Darby or anybody else, it can only be for the rediscovery of a doctrine long buried by the Vatican for the same reason.  If the Lord is to come for the living saints, then the Vatican dogma that requires additional purification in Purgatory collapses.

It is beyond question that the Bible presents the Second Coming in two-part harmony – to argue otherwise is to argue that the Bible contradicts itself, rather than harmonizes. 

Having established the clear Biblical timeline that proves the Second Coming is in two parts, the next question is whether or not the Rapture takes place before, during or after the Tribulation.  

Note with me the one doctrine that demands the Second Coming must be in two parts.  The doctrine of immanency.  (2nd Peter 3:10, Revelation 3:3, Luke 12:40, Luke 12:46, Matthew 24:36,42, Mark 13:32)

I could fill the page with similar references that confirm that the date of the Rapture will be incalculable, whereas the length of the Tribulation period is precisely outlined and concludes with His visible return, and can therefore be calculated.  (Daniel 9:24-27, Daniel 12:7,11-13)

This is the same problem with the Pre-Wrath, Mid-Trib and Post-Trib views – each conflicts with the doctrine of immanency, a doctrine Jesus hammered home many times.

The Rapture of the Church could have happened at any time in history without being early and the Tribulation could still be future without being late.  That has always been the spiritual status quo – until this generation.

For this generation, that equation is turned on its head.  Instead, the Rapture is like a floodgate on a dam.  During the Church age, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit within believers serves to hold back the onset of unrestricted evil.

When that floodgate is removed, then evil is allowed to flow unrestricted.  We are that floodgate – once the Church has been removed, there will be nobody left to stand in the way.

In the meantime, we are all that stands in the enemy’s way. 

This brief was originally published October 6, 2010.

Moral Majority Breaks Silence – Too Little, Too Late?

Moral Majority Breaks Silence – Too Little, Too Late?
Vol: 145 Issue: 25 Friday, October 25, 2013

After decades of staying in the shadows, America’s ‘Moral Majority’ was beginning to sound like a myth.

While all the polls show the majority of Americans identify themselves with conservative values, and the overwhelming majority of Americans identify themselves as ‘Christian’, America’s moral fiber has been steadily eroding.

In the same country in which Rob and Laura Petrie slept in twin beds, Ward and June Cleaver evidently didn’t have a bed, and where Archie Bunker became the first TV sitcom home that had a bathroom, fetal tissue and eggs are now routinely ‘harvested’ from women’s bodies to make collagen soap, or to create embryos for medical experiments.

Pornography is everywhere, including on television, and there is even a movement to lower the age of consent for children having sex with adults.

Given the ‘correct’ circumstances, the elderly, the profoundly disabled, and the unborn can be put to death with impunity by judicial order.

Marriage is rapidly being redefined as any union with a variety of partners, regardless of sex. Single-parent homes are nearly as common as traditional families with married parents. In some demographics, they are even more common.

Black conservative writer Star Parker once quoted statistics among black Americans that suggest seven out of ten black families are single-parent families.

But there is a growing segment of religious conservatives determined to take a stand to defend America’s Judeo-Christian roots, despite the successes of the liberal minority that seem to be making all the rules.

Progressive liberals go ballistic at the suggestion that America is a majority Christian country or that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.

ABC News recently quoted a Beliefnet poll that found 83% of all Americans identify themselves as Christians. That figure is only slightly lower than the 89% majority as assessed by the CIA World Factbook.

The Factbook found only 9 percent of Americans who claimed to be atheists — Beliefnet found 13%. Both agree that, of those Americans who expressed a religious belief, non-Christians in America are a tiny minority of less than five percent.

Is America a ‘Christian’ country? One could just as easily ask, ‘Is the Pope Catholic?’

Assessment:

Ummm, let’s ask a different question, instead. Is Israel a ‘Jewish State’?

One would be hard-pressed to make any argument to the contrary. About the only thing the Arab world agrees on is that Israel is a Jewish state. The UN has passed volumes of resolutions condemning Israel FOR BEING a Jewish state.

It was only in the past decade that the UN abandoned its equation of Zionism with ‘racism’ and the Durban Conference on Racism a few years back in South Africa devoted most of its time to condemning Israel’s ‘racist’ policies — but not because of any ‘racial’ inequality.

As Michael Melchior observed at that conference, “Israelis, are a ‘people of a particular birth, irrespective of religion, and people of a particular religion, irrespective of birth.’

In America, only four percent of the population is non-Christian. Eighteen percent of Israeli citizens are non-Jews, a mix of Arab Muslims, Arab Christians and non-Jews of other faiths.

If Israel is a “Jewish State” because 82% of its population are Jews, then what does an 83% Christian majority make America? Buddhist?

Leaving Israel aside, the Beliefnet poll went further than most in determining Christian demographics, comparing the American results to the global religious makeup.

According to the poll, this is how America stacks up against the rest of the world.

United States: Christian, 83% No religion, 13% non-Christian, 4% World: Christian, 33%, No religion, 5%, non-Christian, 52%

Of the 83% of Americans who identify themselves as Christian, 37% agreed with the labels ‘evangelical’ or ‘born again’ to describe their religious beliefs and associations. Forty-seven percent of Protestants and 14% of Catholics describe themselves as born-again.

And seventy-four percent of those who claim to be born-again identified themselves as Republicans.

In addition to confirming that America is a Christian country, opinion polls also confirm that America is the most hated country on earth — after Israel. But, if one cared to look, they’d discover something else.

Our loudest and most prolific international criticism comes from countries like China, North Korea, Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Iran.

How come they focus their immigration efforts on keeping their people IN, while America’s biggest immigration problem is keeping them out?

Why is it that those who can escape their own countries head immediately to the ‘Great Satan’ for refuge?

For the most part, all of the negative information about America, her history, her scandals and her hypocrisies come directly from the American media.In North Korea, the average guy only knows his own government. To him, that’s what ‘government’ is. In his entire life, he’s never heard his own government criticize itself, and he’s never heard anybody else criticize his government in public.

So, as far as he knows, he [and maybe a few really close friends] are the only ones in the country who think they got lousy leadership.

So when he reads what a scandal-ridden, double-dealing, oppressive country America is, according to America’s own self-assessment, then our North Korean friend can only assume that, compared to their ‘worker’s paradise’, America must be a foul place, indeed.

In the Arab world, to a greater or lesser degree, we can find a similar dynamic at work. When some tin-pot dictator or would-be rabble-rouser wants to rouse some rabble, he doesn’t need to denounce America, he can just replay us doing it for him.

Since all the average Muktar or Mohamed knows is that nobody criticizes his government and everybody can find something wrong with America, then America must be an awful place deserving of its standing.

It isn’t America that the average Ivan, Ahmed, or Chou Wong hates, but rather, it is his perception of what America is — a Christian nation.

Article 14 of the UNDHR says,

“Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” but then specifically excludes religious persecution in the next breath.

Subsection (b) says,

“This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”

Literally reading the 1948 Genocide Treaty, Christianity is ‘genocide’. The genocide concept was defined by the 1948 United Nations Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide Crime.

According to the article 2 of this Convention, ‘genocide’ includes “inflicting serious physical or mental integrity” on the group members.

Christians believe that the only way to heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ. That specifically excludes all other religions, which has already been successfully argued as the ‘infliction of serious mental harm’ to members of other identifiable religious groups.

It was the same concept under which the Romans persecuted Christians. The Romans didn’t object to one more God, they had lots of gods. They objected to the Christian claim that Jesus is the ONLY way — they took offense to that as a ‘hate crime’.

Persecution of Christians is not new — it is as old as Christianity itself. It is significant to note that the only two nations founded on the principles of Scripture are the world’s most hated nations.

They enjoy the undying animosity of the United Nations, European Community and, particularly, the Islamic world.

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:18-19)

Note: Jack published this Letter on May 1, 2005.  Alf Cengia’s article, “Losing my Self” goes on to assess today’s immorality.

Prophecy? Or Predestination?

Prophecy? Or Predestination?
Vol: 145 Issue: 24 Thursday, October 24, 2013

One of the most controversial (and least understood) points of doctrine apart from eternal security or a pre-trib Rapture is the doctrine of predestination.

“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29)

‘Predestination’ suffers from the same malady as do many other controversial doctrinal issues — political correctness. 

(WHAT?  No, really.  It’s true.  Hear me out.)

There are two main objections to predestination.  One is doctrinal, the other, political.  Let’s look at the political objection first.

If the doctrine of predestination is true, then it follows that those who were not predestinated to be conformed to the Image of His Son were predestinated for hell.   That is politically incorrect;  it is hateful and exclusionary.    

The second objection to predestination is that it negates free will.  Of the two objections, this seems to be the one with the least ground to stand on.   Because God knows what your decision is going to be doesn’t mean that you don’t have any choice.

I could offer you a million dollars, tax free, without any strings or a good swift kick in your behind.   I could also predict in advance what your choice would be.   

You may surprise me and choose the kick in the rear.  But my prediction would not affect your choice. 

The difference is that in my case, I could be wrong on my prediction, whereas God isn’t guessing.  He already knows.  But YOU don’t know what your choice is until you make it.

Your free will is unencumbered.  

Assessment:

Many of the same people that just can’t seem to get their head around the concept of predestination have absolutely no problem in believing in Bible prophecy.   How is it that YOU view Bible prophecy?  

Consider the following Scriptures:

“I  am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.”

“For dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet. I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me. They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.” (Psalms 22:14-18)

Did Psalms 22 predestinate the Crucifixion?  Or does it simply predict it?  Is there a difference?  In what way?

Did God foreknow Judas?  Did God foreknow Caiaphas?  Did God foreknow the Roman soldiers who scourged Him, spat upon Him, drove the nails into His hands and feet?   Did God foreknow which of them would gamble for His robe?

Is this really even a question?  Of course God foreknew each of them — or He couldn’t have foreknown me.  Which then means the Bible cannot be true, since it says that He foreknows us all.

Foreknowledge is the same thing as predestination in the sense that God’s knowledge is perfect.  But since you don’t know your own future, how can your free will decisions be encumbered by the fact that God does?

The politically correct response to predestination being advanced as a doctrine is to shout “Calvinist!” at the top of one’s lungs, cover one’s ears with one’s hands and to run screaming from the room.

One needn’t be a Calvinist to believe that God is omniscient.  One needn’t be a Calvinist to believe that the Old Testament prophets predicted Christ’s First Advent.  Isaiah wasn’t a Calvinist when he wrote of the suffering Messiah of Isaiah 53.

“Calvinist” is a label applied to the five major points of doctrine outlined by French theologian John Calvin in the mid-14th century.   Calvin’s five points are identified by the acronym TULIP.

  1. Total Depravity of Man
  2. Unconditional Election
  3. Limited Atonement
  4. Irresistible Grace
  5. Perseverance of the Saints

Calvinism teaches that salvation is entirely the work of God; God chose His elect, the Son died to pay their sin debt, and the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the Gospel.

I am not a Calvinist, primarily because the general understanding of Calvinism is that Calvinists need not witness to the lost because God’s irresistible grace nullifies our obligation under the Great Commission.  

So according to that understanding, I am not a Calvinist.  But that understanding is so totally flawed that it astonishes me that anyone can actually believe it.

If prophecy is foreknowledge, why is it not predestination? And if it is predestination, then what is the argument against predestination?  If prophecy were to fail, what would that mean?  That man’s free will trumps God’s foreknowledge? 

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the CALLED according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

The goodness of God in converting and saving sinners encourages others to hope in His grace and mercy. Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of works, lest any man should boast. These things are not brought to pass by anything done by us, therefore all boasting is shut out.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5)

It is the free gift of God, and the effect of being quickened by His power. It was His purpose, to which he prepared us, by blessing us with the knowledge of His will, and His Holy Spirit producing such a change in us, that we should glorify God by our perseverance to holiness.

‘Holiness’ (Gk hagiasmos) means ‘purification’ which is a PROCESS, also accomplished by God through Jesus.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath BEGUN a good work in you will PERFORM it UNTIL the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6)

There are no Christians more deserving than others. Because you have not yet achieved the state of holiness others have does not mean you are less favored. We all come to the Cross equally lost, and we all came away equally saved.

Salvation is an eternal state for which each of us were called before the world began, or else the Bible is not telling the truth.

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”  (2 Timothy 1:9)

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that CANNOT LIE, PROMISED before the world began. . .” (Titus 1:2)

Let’s bring it together. Nobody can come to Christ unless they are drawn by the Father, who provides us with both the extension of the offer of salvation and the faith necessary to receive it, a calling that was sealed in heaven before the world began, according to His purpose and grace.

Our salvation is immediate and eternal, but our purification is a process, which, having been begun in us at the moment of salvation, will be performed in us — BY CHRIST — until the day we stand before Him. Lest anyone should boast.

That’s not my opinion of what the Bible says — look up the verses in context and see if you can make them mean something else.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:23-24)

Legalism runs counter to the clear teaching of Scripture. This is a very difficult doctrine to both teach and understand. It sounds like a license to sin.  It is not.  

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21)

We don’t think like God does, which is why He inspired the Scriptures.   To provide us with the tiniest bit of insight into the way God sees things.

Our relationship to Christ is unique — that God knows our hearts, and has already judged us accordingly. So that sin cannot reign supreme in our mortal body and thereby render us useless to our calling.

If the enemy can convince us of our own personal unrighteousness (of which each of us is acutely aware) or cause us to doubt the truth of Scripture or of our faith (which is a gift from God, lest anyone should boast) or cause us to doubt our own salvation, then we will not be able to effectively wield the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

God has a plan for each of us, and His plan is to send us to seek out and introduce others to their Savior. That is our assignment on this earth. THAT is our ‘calling.’

To spread the Gospel.

As Christians, we have an awesome responsibility before God. We have been assigned to seek out the lost and offer them the Gospel. To accomplish our mission, we need to be fully equipped for the task.

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1st Peter 3:15)

The most effective weapon we have in our war with the enemy is the knowledge that he cannot take away our salvation.  We walk in the light of the Gospel, but we remain human beings and sinners, washed in the Blood of the Lamb, but still trapped in the “body of this death“.

Consequently, there is never a time when we are unworthy to tell others of Jesus Christ.  

 “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  (1st John 1:7-8)

Bible prophecy isn’t Calvinism.  Is Bible prophecy predestinated?  Well, it is written down in advance.  The choices necessary for its fulfillment have not yet been made by the participants. 

And God says that Bible prophecy will all be fulfilled to the letter.  What else could it be?

Predestination plays no role in your free will, or in the free will choices of anyone else.    

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9

Trust Him.  The more hopeless you think you are, the more you have to rely on Him.

Don’t let the enemy convince you that you aren’t worthy to carry the message.  After all, your prospect is just as liable to say, “Heck, if he can be saved, then there must be hope for me.”

God knew what He was doing when He gave you this job.  Trust Him.

And get ‘er done!  Maranatha!

Note: Jack wrote this doctrinal overview for us back in 2010.  J.L. Robb shares in his article; “The Abraham Connection” that Abraham’s free will choices are still being felt today.  God is still not surprised.  Maranatha!